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Behind the Manual: Branch church government

From the September 2012 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Mary Baker Eddy founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1879. Following its disorganization in 1889, she moved in 1892 to organize The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, as a church that would carry on the universal mission of Christian Science. And in time this organization included the provision for branches of The Mother Church to be established in local communities around the world.

In 1895, the first edition of the Manual of The Mother Church was published. Most of the
By-Laws in this slim volume relate to the organization and government of The Mother Church and the behavior of its members. But some of the By-Laws specifically relate to branch churches and illustrate the essential unity that exists between The Mother Church and its branches.

A key statement regarding branch church government is in Article XXIII, Section 10, where Mrs. Eddy writes: “In Christian Science each branch church shall be distinctly democratic in its government, and no individual, and no other church shall interfere with its affairs” (p. 74).

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